I joke that my children are part human and part fruit bat, they would eat fruit all day if allowed. They are pretty good with the veggies too but I admit it is a constant battle to get them to try new things but at least eat they will eat a lot of the ones they do like – carrot, peas, corn and red capsicum.
Research out this week show alarming statistics that a third of Australian children are not eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables each day that being 4-5 serves of vegetables and 1-2 serves of fruit, furthermore 14% of children aged 4-7 do not eat any fruit and vegetables every day with that figure rising to 25% for children aged 8-11. Many children had no understanding of where nutrients come from and sadly the article also cited parents being busy as one of the reasons parents didn’t spend more times trying to get their children to eat them.
The benefits of eating fruit and vegetables are many and varied, at Little Miracles we offer fruit and healthy foods on a daily basis and all children are encouraged to choose their preference and try something new as well. The experience of seeing their peers eat the fruit encourages them to try knew things too. We also regularly spend time talking about nutrition and the importance of a healthy balanced diet. That sometimes food are ok but that they are just that “sometimes food”.We also encourage the children to try vegetables and herbs straight from the Little Miracles gardens which we have at almost all our centres with the final one being planted soon.
1) Add grated veggies to pasta sauces, meatballs/rissoles, pizza or anywhere you can. It is also important to offer the veggies on the side so your child becomes familiar with them
2) Make sure you are eating these foods too, it is always important to lead by example.
3) Cut the vegetables into fun shapes and use a wide variety of colours to encourage your child.
4) Offer dips such as hummus or guacamole to dip raw veggies in.
5) Create fruit trees – my girls favourite is a banana “trunk”, apple or kiwi segment “leaves” and avocado “grass”.
6) When shopping for your food have your children choose the fruit and vegetables, they may even be able to choose one new item a week to try.
7) Praise each new fruit and vegetable your child tries but make them to eat it all as it is important not to force your child to eat all of their plate as it encourages eating for the sake of it, however there is nothing wrong with requesting they finish the piece of fruit before they go on to the next item
8) Plant a veggie garden, it is amazing the joy of a small patch of dirt some sun, water and time can bring to the whole family.
9) Involve them in the cooking or preparation, using a melon baller, spoon or butter knife kids can make a pretty tasty fruit salad! Fruit kebabs work well too, you can even offer some yogurt as a dip. Another idea is to cut up all the salad and your children could help prepare by tossing it all in the bowl.
Above all just keep offering, children’s tastes change and it can take many tries for some children to enjoy eating different foods but you child will get there in the end! If you would like more information on healthy eating and adding fruit and vegetables to your child’s diet please see the below links. I have really found these links helpful.